Saturday, 27 December 2014

Humayun's Tomb, India


Humayun's Tomb is located in Delhi, India. It is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, who lived from 1508 to 1556.  It was commissioned by his first wife Bega Begum after his death. Construction began in 1565, and it was completed in 1572. It is constructed of red sandstone and white marble.

The finial on the dome of the tomb was knocked off during a heavy storm on the evening of 30th May 2014. It hadn't been replaced at the time that this shot was taken in September 2014.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Taj Mahal


The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during the birth of their 14th child. Construction began around 1632, and it was completed around 1653.

This photo was taken in September 2014, the day after I proposed to my girlfriend Sarah while overlooking the Taj Mahal from the other side of the river Yamuna.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The New Forest


This shot of a stream near Lyndhurst in the New Forest was taken on a trip with friends in October 2014.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Sunset On Brighton Beach


As the sun set over the beach on a trip to Brighton with SUPS in October 2013, I asked a friend to stand by the shoreline so that I could get this silhouette.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Airbus A380


Airbus' first A380 prototype F-WWOW is seen here in Airbus house colours, landing after a display at Farnborough Airshow in July 2014.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Durdle Door


Another shot of Durdle Door in Dorset from a trip in February 2013. I borrowed a 10-stop neutral density filter from a friend to enable me to get this three minute exposure.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Mute Swan Cygnets


Another shot of the cygnets from a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) family on one of the lakes on Southampton Common, taken in June 2014.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

AV-8B Harrier II


Seen here is a McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II of the Spanish Navy at Farnborough Airshow in July 2014. It had just completed a short takeoff manoeuvre. The exhaust nozzles can be seen angled slightly downwards in their transition upwards into the forward flight position.

The AV-8B Harrier II is a second generation variant of the Harrier Jump Jet family. It uses a single Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine, which has two intakes and four synchronized vectorable nozzles which enables the thrust from the engine to be vectored. This allows it to take off and land vertically, as well as hover.

In a short takeoff manoeuvre the thrust isn't vectored completely downwards, but slightly backwards as well. This gives the aircraft some forward movement allowing the wings to start generating lift, which is more efficient than relying completely on the engine to provide lift in a purely vertical takeoff.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Red Arrows


The Red Arrows finished their display on the Sunday at Farnborough Airshow in July 2014 with the "Vixen Break". The 2014 season is the 50th display season for the team, and their tails are painted with a special design to celebrate.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Zebra Spider


I was testing out my dad's new EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens in the garden of a holiday cottage in Warwickshire where I was staying in July 2014 when I spotted a small shell. I was trying to get a shot of it when it started moving and this zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) crept out, ran to the top and posed for me.

The zebra spider is a common jumping spider. Jumping spiders don't build webs, but pounce on their prey to catch them. They have a distinctive set of eyes, with two large ones in the middle at the front which gives them excellent binocular vision for judging distances, and two smaller eyes either side of these. There are a further two sets of two eyes behind the front four, the last pair of which allow the spider to see upwards. They hunt insects and other small spiders. Before jumping, they attach a silk thread to the surface that they are on so that if they miss they can climb back up the thread.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bald Eagle


This is another shot of Liberty, the female Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Liberty's Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre in Ringwood, Hampshire. It was taken in February 2014.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Great Tit


This shot of a Great Tit (Parus major) was taken from the Woodland Hide at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve in Ringwood, Hampshire in March 2014.

The Great Tit is found throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and Northern Asia, and parts of North Africa. It is the largest of the resident UK tits. They are generally non-migratory. Their diet consists of insects and spiders in the summer months, and seeds and berries in the autumn and winter months when insect prey is scarcer.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Notre Dame de Paris


Seen here is Notre Dame de Paris during my visit to Paris in November 2013. I was crossing the Petit Pont - Cardinal Lustiger bridge over the river Seine heading to the Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame RER station, having just tried steak tatare for the first time in a nearby restaurant, when I spotted the opportunity for this shot.

Notre Dame de Paris is a Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Seine. Construction began in 1163, and it was completed in 1345. It was damaged in the 1790s during the French Revolution, and restoration began in 1845. More recently a restoration and maintenance project was started in 1991.

The bridge that can also be seen is the Pont au Double. The current bridge is a one arch cast-iron one built in 1883 to replace the original, which had previously collapsed and been rebuilt.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Mute Swan Cygnets


In June 2014, a friend and I went for a walk on Southampton Common. He has an EF 300mm f/4L IS USM lens, and we were both keen to see how it performed with my new 1.4x extender. We came across a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) family on one of the ponds, and spent a while there photographing them with the combination of lens and extender.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Amur Tiger


This is another shot of Bagai, Marwell Zoo's young male Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). It was taken in March 2014.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Grévy's Zebra


This shot of a Grévy's zebra (Equus grevyi) was taken at Marwell Zoo in March 2014.

Émile Oustalet first described the Grévy's zebra in 1882. He named it after Jules Grévy, who was the president of France at the time and had been given one by the government of Abyssinia.

The Grévy's zebra is found in Kenya and Ethiopia. It is one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra (Equus quagga) and the mountain zebra (Equus zebra). It has narrower stripes, is taller and has larger ears than the other two species. It feeds on grasses, legumes and browse. Grévy's zebras are hunted for food by lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs.

The Grévy's zebra is currently listed as "endangered". It is estimated that less than 2,500 Grévy's zebras are currently left in the wild, down from 15,000 in the 1970s. Grévy's zebras were hunted for their skins in the past, but they are now legally protected in Ethiopia, and protected by a hunting ban in Kenya. The main threat to the Grévy's zebra now is from habitat loss and competition with livestock. The population trend has been considered stable since 2008.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Robin


Another shot taken using my new 1.4x extender. This Robin (Erithacus rubecula) flew down to my garden one lunchtime in May 2014.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Paris In The Autumn


This autumnal shot of the Eiffel Tower was taken on my visit to Paris in November 2013. The Passerelle Debilly (Debilly Footbridge) is also seen crossing the river Seine in front of the tower.

Construction of the Eiffel Tower began in January 1887, and the main structural work was completed in March 1889. It was built to be the entrance arch to 1889 World's Fair. The tower was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built it. It stands at 324 metres tall, with the third level platform being 276 metres above the ground.

The Passerelle Debilly was built to accommodate the extra foot traffic to the 1900 World's Fair. Construction started in 1899 and it opened in 1900. The bridge is 125 metres long and 8 metres wide. It connects the quai de New York to the quai Branly.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Westminster Sunset


In December 2011 I went to the Southbank Centre Christmas Market in London. As the sun set, I saw an opportunity to get this silhouette of the Palace of Westminster.

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and House of Lords. A royal palace was originally built on the site in the eleventh century, but a serious fire on 16th October 1834 destroyed most of the original medieval palace. It was rebuilt between 1840 and 1870 in the Gothic style as seen here. During the Second World War, it was hit by bombs on fourteen separate occasions.

The Victoria Tower can be seen on the left, with the Central Tower next to it. To the right can be seen the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben.

The palace has been a Grade I listed building since 1970, and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site since 1987.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Mute Swan


I recently bought a 1.4x extender for my telephoto lens. To test it I went to the Itchen Valley Country Park, hoping to get some shots of Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) cygnets. I found some swans that were still sitting on eggs, but there weren't any cygnets around yet. I got this portrait of one of the adults as it swam by. This shot was taken in May 2014.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

New Facebook Page

I have just created a new Facebook page for my photography. Check it out and "Like" here:

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Crab Spider


This shot of a crab spider (Misumena vatia) was taken in the Itchen Valley Country Park in April 2014. It was taken with a borrowed macro lens (Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro).

Crab spiders can be found throughout the southern half of England and Wales. They are most commonly found on the borders between grass and scrub. They hide on flowers and wait for flies or other small insects to land near them, then pounce and catch them with their front legs.

Mature female crab spiders can change colour between white and yellow to match the plant that they are hunting on. When on a yellow flower, this is done by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white flower, this yellow pigment is transported into lower cell layers so that inner glands, which are white, show through. To change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, whereas to change from yellow to white only takes six days. Mature males are smaller and predominantly brown.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Black Kite


This portrait of a Black Kite (Milvus migrans) was taken at Liberty's Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre in Ringwood, Hampshire in February 2014.

Black Kites can be found throughout the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. They are mainly migratory, with birds from the temperate parts of Europe and northern Asia travelling to sub-Saharan Africa for winter. Birds that are resident to tropical regions do not tend to migrate. They are not resident in the UK, but can occasionally be seen during their migration.

Their diet primarily consists of carrion, small mammals, fish, and birds. They soar on thermals as they search for food, then swoop with their legs lowered to snatch the prey. They also scavenge food from household refuse.

Black Kites are currently classified as "least concern", with an estimated six million individuals worldwide. They are one of the most common raptors in the world, despite a decline in the overall population due to poisoning, shooting, pollution of water, overuse of pesticides and loss of habitat.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lake Alpsee, Germany


Lake Alpsee is located in the Alpine foothills near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. SUPS travelled to Munich in January 2014 for our annual international trip, and we visited the lake when we went to see the nearby Neuschwanstein Castle.

The lake is the largest natural lake in the region. It covers an area of nearly one square kilometre, with just under five kilometres of shoreline and a depth of up to 62 metres.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Snow Leopard


This is Marwell Zoo's male snow leopard (Panthera uncia syn. Uncia uncia) cub Ajendra at eleven months old. This photo was taken in March 2014 with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM).

Snow leopards are found throughout the mountain ranges of Central Asia, where they are well adapted to their life on the cold and steep mountain sides. They have a very thick coat to protect against the cold. A long flexible furry tail is used for balance, as well as to wrap around themselves for further warmth. They have large paws and short fore-limbs for walking on snow, and large hind-limbs for leaping.

The main prey for snow leopards are wild goats and sheep which live in the mountain ranges, though they will also take smaller prey such as hares and large birds. They are mostly solitary animals, except for when a mother has cubs. The cubs remain with their mother until they are independent, which is usually around 18-22 months.

There has been a lot of debate as to the classification of snow leopards. Traditionally the term "big cat" has been applied to the cats that can roar, which includes tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars. These are all members of the genus Panthera. Snow leopards cannot roar and so originally they were not thought to be big cats, and were classified as Uncia uncia. However, recent studies have revealed that the snow leopard is closely related to the big cats, in particular the tiger. They have been considered part of the genus Panthera since 2008, being classified as Panthera uncia.

Snow leopards are currently classified as "endangered". The primary reasons for this are loss of habitat and prey due to human expansion, illegal hunting for their fur and traditional Asian medicine, and herders killing them to protect their livestock. It is currently estimated that there are between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leopards left in the wild.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Blue Tit


This shot of a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) was taken from the Woodland Hide at Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve in Ringwood, Hampshire. It was taken in March 2014 with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM).

The Blue Tit can be found throughout Europe. They are a resident and non-migratory bird, and are commonly found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. They eat insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Moon


This shot of the moon was taken handheld with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM) using the "Looney 11 rule" in March 2014. This rule, which is similar to the "Sunny 16 rule" for sunny days, is a rule for estimating the required exposure for a moon that is full or near to full. It states that at f/11, the required shutter speed is equal to 1/ISO. As this shot was handheld I wanted 1/400 second shutter speed to compensate for any movement due to the focal length, so I chose ISO 400. The resulting shot was then cropped to produce the image seen here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Amur Tiger


This is Bagai, Marwell Zoo's young male Amur (also known as Siberian) tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). This shot was taken in March 2014 with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM).

Bagai is currently twenty months old, and arrived at Marwell in December 2013. He was brought in to partner Milla, Marwell's slightly older female Amur tiger. He is currently in an enclosure of his own, being allowed to settle in before being introduced to Milla. It is hoped that they will one day produce offspring together as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

The Amur tiger is the world's largest cat. They are solitary animals, and fiercely protect their territories. They hunt by stealth mainly at night, their striped coats giving them the camouflage they need to creep up on prey before pouncing. Their prey includes elk and wild boar. The Amur tiger's range is primarily the birch forests of eastern Russia, although some are also found in northern China and the Korean peninsula. Females give birth to a litter of two to six cubs, who cannot hunt until they are eighteen months old. They stay with their mother for two to three years, before leaving to find territories of their own.

Tigers have been hunted for centuries, their fur wanted as trophies and various body parts wanted for use in Chinese medicine. They are currently classified as "endangered", and it is estimated that there are between 400 and 500 Amur tigers left in the wild. Many protection programs are in place to help protect the remaining wild tigers.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Charles Bridge, Prague


SUPS travelled to Prague in the Czech Republic in January 2013. Pictured here is the Charles Bridge, which connects the Old Town and Lesser Town districts of Prague. It was commissioned by Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, and construction started in 1357. It was finished in the early 15th century. It was the only bridge that crossed the river Vltava until 1841, and so was an important connection between Prague Castle and the Old Town.

The bridge was originally known as the Stone Bridge, but became known as the Charles Bridge in the 19th century. It is 621 metres long and almost 10 metres wide. There is a bridge tower called Malostranská věž protecting the Lesser Town side, and one on the Old Town side called Staroměstská věž, which can be seen in this photo. Thirty Baroque statues were placed along the edges of the bridge in the 17th century. Today these have mostly been replaced by replicas.

This shot was taken from the Petřín Lookout Tower, which is located on top of a hill that overlooks the city.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Red Arrows


Seen here are the Red Arrows at RIAT 2013 performing the "Twister", which was a new manoeuvre for the 2013 season.

The Red Arrows, officially called the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, were formed in 1965 from the amalgamation of several other RAF display teams, and flew their first display season the same year. Initially flying the Hawker Siddeley Gnat, the team switched to the BAE Hawk T1 in 1979. The team originally flew in formations of seven, but from mid-1966 started flying some displays in formations of nine. The team officially increased in size to a nine aircraft team in 1968, allowing them to fly the perfectly symmetrical "Diamond Nine" formation. The team is currently based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Since their formation, the team have have flown over 4,000 displays in 52 countries.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Water Droplet


This shot of a water droplet was taken in February 2014.

A pipette was used to drop water droplets into a baking tray full of water. Two speedlites, one of which gelled blue, were positioned either side of the tray and bounced off of a large white reflector behind it. The camera was mounted on a tripod with a borrowed macro lens (Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro). A remote shutter release was used so that I could use the pipette with one hand and activate the shutter release with the other when the droplet hit the water in the tray.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Southwark Bridge


SUPS took park in the NUPS Photo Hunt again in November 2013, where we were given the task of finding and photographing 25 objects around London as well as getting images for 10 different themes. This photo of Southwark Bridge was taken from Bankside near to The Anchor Bankside pub while hunting for the next object on the find list.

I entered it into the individual competition, which is a competition that any photo taken on the day can be entered into, and was surprised and delighted to come fourth. The competition was judged by Mike Deere, Professional Photographer of the Year 2013, who had this to say of it: "A really well composed architectural shot with spot on colour and contrast. St. Paul's is framed amongst the lights on the bridge adding another layer and element to the shot."

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bald Eagle


This is Liberty, the female Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Liberty's Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre. The centre, which was named after her, is located in Ringwood, Hampshire. This shot was taken in February 2014 on a visit with SUPS.

The Bald Eagle is a sea eagle that can be found throughout North America, especially near to coasts, rivers, large lakes or marshes. Their wingspan is typically between 1.8 and 2.3 metres (5.9 and 7.5 feet), and the females are around 25% larger than males.

The majority of their diet is comprised of fish, which they catch by swooping low over bodies of water and grabbing with their talons. They will also hunt other birds, small mammals and reptiles. They live on average for around 20 years.

The Bald Eagle was once endangered due to pesticides and hunting. It was placed under protection in 1918, and this plus the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1978 have led to populations flourishing again. It was reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened" in 1995, and de-listed completely in 2007.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany


The SUPS international trip in January 2014 was to Munich, Germany. We happened to pick the day it snowed to visit Schloss Neuschwanstein, or Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle is located in the Alpine foothills above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, which is two hours from Munich by train.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the castle as a private retreat, and construction began in the 1860s. He died in 1886 with the castle still incomplete, and many rooms remain unfurnished to this day. The castle was opened to the paying public shortly after his death.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Southampton At Night


A night walk in Southampton was organised by SUPS in November 2013. The clock tower of the Civic Centre is seen here overlooking a busy road junction.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Lower Slaughter


The Cotswold village of Lower Slaughter is situated in Gloucestershire, and is built on the banks of the River Eye. This is the watermill at the west end of the village, seen here in September 2012.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Squirrel


This tame squirrel posed for a photo in Kelsey Park in Beckenham, South East London, in December 2013.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Broadway Tower


Broadway Tower is located near the village of Broadway in the county of Worcestershire. Its base is located at the second highest point in the Cotswolds at 312 metres above sea level, with the tower itself standing 17 metres tall. It was designed by James Wyatt in the 1790s and was completed in 1798. It is seen here in the sun that appeared between rain showers on a day in August 2013.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Airbus A380


British Airways' first Airbus A380 G-XLEA is seen here at RIAT 2013 during a low flypast in landing configuration with flaps, slats and landing gear deployed.